After many years of trying, Danny Church finally struck gold on the beaches of Rockford Speedway.
The Delavan Wisconsin driver out-dueled multi-time Bahama Bracket winner James Swan en route to a $1500 payday and his first ever feature win in the 24th edition of the event. Church maneuvered his dirt modified past Swan’s asphalt Modified in the race’s final ten laps and held off one last charge from Swan in the race’s final laps.
Swan stormed to the lead early in the 50 lap ‘A Bracket’ feature, with Church picking his was to second by lap 20. Yet by the time Church got to second place, he was still over a straightaway behind Swan, who was lapping through most of the 22-car field. The race’s only yellow on the 24th lap, thrown for Nick Shutkas’ disabled car in the first turn, brought Church to the backside of Swan’s car for the final sprint to the finish. The two open-wheeled cars rocketed away from the rest of the field and settled the score among themselves, with Church making the move on the fringe of lap traffic with 10 to go.
Swan came home a close second, followed by overall fast qualifier Tom Gille in third. Josh Nelms collected fourth, followed by former AA Bracket winner Chris Woodall in fifth. Shaun Wiltjer finished sixth, the final car on the lead lap.
‘AA Bracket’ fast qualifier Rick Coppernoll was smooth and consistent all day in pedaling from deep in the field on the way to a $1000 pay day and his first Bahama Bracket victory. Once Coppernoll assumed the lead of his 50 lap feature, he was rarely challenged on the way to the victory. Cody Potter also made a run from deep in the field to collect a second place finish behind Coppernoll, while Kyle Ansolabehere finished in third. Last Chance Race winner Josh Lundy came home in fourth, with Dave Wakeman rounding out the top five.
Iowa’s Bob Ahrendson has been coming to Bahama Bracket Nationals for several years, with Sunday his crowning achievement. Ahrendson ran near the front of the 50 lap ‘AAA Bracket’ feature most of the day and collected his first Bahama Bracket feature, out-running fellow Iowan Craig Hentrich for the win. Both Hentrich and third place finisher Rick Wilson had to make their way from the back of the field during the race to re-enter the top three. Brian Kucaba was scored fourth, while ‘Wild Child’ Nick Schneider rounded out the top five.
The ‘AAAA Bracket’ 50 lap feature was a barn-burner, featuring a race-long side-by-side duel between Dennis Smith Jr and ‘Bullet’ Bobby Frisch. The two drivers swapped the lead several times throughout the event, with Smith slamming the door on Frisch for the win as the two made their way to the checkered flag. Smith’s win was his 10th at Rockford Speedway this year. Frisch finished second, while Chris McQuality came home third, followed by Robby Robinson and ‘Magic Shoes’ Trevor Robinson.
Wisconsin’s Kyle Stark took the lead early in the 40 lap ‘B Bracket’ feature and held off a furious charge from Bobby Frisch to take the win in the fast-paced four-cylinder feature. Rockford Speedway track champion Zach Rodriguez finished the 40 laps in third place, followed by ‘B Bracket’ fast qualifier Ryan Nelson in fourth and Phil Malouf in fifth.
The final race of the day, the 35 lap ‘BB Bracket’ feature, was one of the wildest, with three lead changes in the final five laps. When the dust settled, Kyle Royster out-distanced Rockford Speedway Hornet champion Justin Mikel for the checkered flag. Dan Schmeissing, who started the race in the 25th and final starting spot, ended up in third position.